Why Bathroom Floors Need to Move
“Tenting” is a terrible word to a tile professional. When a bathroom floor has been installed incorrectly, tiles can press against one another and pop up off the floor, creating a tent shape. It’s not just tile that does this — almost every material in a home expands and contracts with time, including the plywood subfloor, which can develop popped tiles or cracked grout joints. These professional pointers for preparation and installation techniques can help keep your bathroom floor from tenting:
– Avoid large-format tile. More grout joints allow for minor movement and spreading out. If you have a large bathroom — like this beautiful space — with loads of natural sunlight, a smaller and lighter tile is definitely a safer option. Darker tile absorbs heat and expands and contracts more than lighter tile.
– All of a home’s building materials expand and contract; the hardwood floor, the tile and even the countertops all move over time. Any good pro should know how to account for these size changes and prevent expansion from wreaking havoc in a home.
Tip: Make sure your tongue and groove subfloor does not get filled with dust, debris or adhesive mortar (thinset). This subfloor needs the ability to move, and the joints should not be too tight.
– This photo shows some great tile work. The beautiful tile is nicely lined up, but I especially appreciate how there’s no mortar or thinset where the tile meets the wall. Using mortar here can lead to tenting issues, since it prevents the tile floor from moving and expanding. This clean finish is exactly what you want to see in your bathroom. Make sure your tile contractor understands that you don’t want your installation done with thinset on the edges that meet the wall.
Tip: Gently tapping set tiles with the wooden handle of a rubber mallet can help you find the hollow noise where poor thinset coverage has occurred.
With extremely large bathrooms, expansion strips inlayed into the tile assembly are a must. In my opinion, any room larger than 15 feet in one direction should be using some kind of expansion strip and speciality thinsets and grouts to increase expansion and combat mortar fatigue.
If you are interested in adding tiles to your bathroom floor, please contact Westhill Construction today!